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About the life of Saint Tukaram

During his life, he had two wives. The first, Rakhumabai, died of starvation during a severe famine. Tuka felt ashamed and embarrassed by his lack of ability to get enough food to save his wife's life. His second wife was younger than the first. Her name was Jijabai (also called Avali), and she constantly nagged Tukaram and complained about his inability to hold a job and properly support his family. She began to consider God her enemy, and made Tuka's home life miserable. He also had three sons, named Santu or Mahadev, Vithoba and Narayana. Narayana was considerably younger than Mahadev and Vithoba, and was a great bhakta like his father.

Despite these personal tragedies, he never lost the love towards Krishna. His songs were the spontaneous expression of devotion through singing and dancing of kirtans in honor of Krishna. However, Tukaram faced many problems in his own spiritual quest. Other than the personal tragedies, he was filled with frustration and doubt. One day, when he was prepared to commit suicide, he experienced the divine. From that moment on, his life changed. His philosophy was simple and effective 'Sit silently and repeat the name of the Lord. That alone is enough for realization.' He constantly emphasised that ethics and orthodox religion like the study of Vedas were just formalities and the real use of religion is in realization of the divine through Love.

He used to write a particular verse form called the abhanga, a run on couplet with three and a half feet with the first three rhyming. In the use of this poetic device he was unrivalled, and others have practically left it alone after him in tacit acknowledgment there is nothing more that can be done with it. He also used to add his signature Tuka Mhane or "Tuka Says" at the end of each verse.

Typical of the Varkari sampradaya where samaj seva (service to the community) and hari sankirtan (group worship through music) was the Way, Tukaram made it his call to work for group enlightenment rather than just for himself. In that sense he was very much a bodhisattva.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).


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